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Your self-care is crap

When I think of terrible leaders, I think of people with a short fuse and bad temper. Those people feed into the tension at work by being unpredictable, inconsistent, and bad at communication.

We all have bad days or even seasons. But when having a hard time becomes more common in your life, chances are that your self-care is crap.

And you’d be a lot easier to be around if you focused your attention on this.

If frustration is always below the surface for you, chances are your self-care is seriously lacking. If people have a hard time understanding what you are trying to communicate because you are often forgetting or missing important information from your debrief sessions, chances are that your self-care is crap and that is why your brain is constantly buffering like Internet Explorer. If you are short on patience and feel like it’s hard to stay curious and assume the best intentions from your employees, colleagues or clients, chances are really high that your self-care should get a big fat F-.

During one of the many quarterly planning sessions we delivered last month, the leadership team made their self-care goals a part of their professional goals list. I was so impressed.

This is the second quarter in a row that they have done this.

The self-care goals had such a massive impact on their quality of life at home and at work that they decided they needed to continue doing that.

There are certain areas where the personal and professional lines blur a little. There is no perfect delineation of where one ends and the other begins. Robust self-care practices are often done during personal time, but they are the bedrock of your professional success and overall quality of life. When you half-ass this part of your adulting, you are making other people bear the cost. And not only that is so unfair, but you should also be paying for the therapy sessions that people have to sit through just to survive a chronically stressful work environment. (side note: chronic stress is toxic and has the same effect on our bodies and mental health as a singular traumatic event. Chronic stress is a significant contributor to complex post-traumatic stress disorder formation. The physical symptoms mirror those resulting from trauma. It wrecks your body and soul.)

Don’t be that guy.

So much of an organization's success and accomplishing audacious goals has to do with bandwidth. If you are tapped out, you are not patient. If you are tapped out, you are irritable. If you are tapped out, it’s hard to be creative. If you are tapped out, it’s hard to be excited about the work and the mission. If your batteries are constantly on red, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to stay regulated. Are you sensing a pattern yet???

Self-regulation is imperative to tackle those difficult conversations that you are putting off and as a result you’re losing sleep because your mind races and the unaddressed convos are tormenting you.

During the Calm, Curious, and Collaborative workshop we gave each guest cutting edge strategies to stay centered and on top of your game. During that workshop of the spring series, we equipped people with knowledge and strategies to tackle big uncomfortable disconnects at work.

But none of those strategies and new knowledge can yield any benefit if you are scraping the bottom of the barrel for your energy and bandwidth. That’s how big of a deal this is.

Our regulation workshop is great because it doesn’t tell you what you should be doing. You already know what you should be doing because you are smart, ambitious, and you read a lot all the time. (*cue hair flip*) That is why we teach higher level strategies and deeper understanding of your nervous system. Because the nervous system is the cheat code. If you address this, you leap frog all the “I am trying” and “I shoulds” into “this is now my reality and my identity.” I know that you know what you should be doing. So, I focus on giving you a deeper understanding of why it’s not working and tools to fast track the process of getting you out of a hole.

So! In the same spirit as the strategic planning session, what are the most important actions that will move the needle when it comes to returning you to the place of thriving and loving life?

Write them as part of your quarterly professional goals. Get yourself some accountability and support. The team that we worked with wrote goals such as “get 6-8 hours of sleep,” “spend time with god,” “ride my bike for x miles,” “meditation.” And every week that they have their staff meeting, they report on the progress. They know people are watching and are ready to encourage and help them when they get stuck. This has directly affected the bottom line in terms of revenue, but more importantly it brings deeper commitment to the work, more fun to the team dynamics, and it translates into a bigger impact in the community.

When I say self-care people think bubble baths and frivolous spending on things that may feel good in the moment but quickly lose their shine.

That’s not the vibe.

Here is an easy way to run a quick diagnosis and tailor a self-care regimen for yourself:

  1. On a scale from 1-10, how do you rate your level of happiness and contentment?

  2. Draw a circle and divide it into four parts. Label each part as spiritual, physical, mental, social. These are the main areas of your life. On a scale from 1-10, how do you rate each area of your life?

  3. What do you need in each area to get you to a 10?

  4. Can you find the one action that has the most impact on getting you closer to a 10?

  5. Use that information to make yourself a self-care regimen.

  6. What kind of support do you need to stay consistent in your practice? Reach out to the right people and ask for help.

That’s it. It’s meant to be simple.

But the practice will require deep stubbornness from you because old habits will fight hard to survive. Which is why you recruit people for support and accountability.

There may be things that require professional support. I am not shy to tell people that medication has lifted the floor for me and allowed me to access my natural talents that give me an edge in the world. Our boss likes to use the phrase “walking through concrete” and I love it because it’s such a good descriptor of how it felt to try to do everything every day. I am not advising you to ask for a prescription or not, but I am definitely telling you to use professional resources where appropriate. Pharmaceuticals don’t do much when you have poor habits. But great healthy habits don’t make up where your body requires professional intervention.

It is your responsibility as a team member to take care of your side of the street to make sure you are not making the rest of the team carry your weight. When you get serious about your self-care, you bring higher quality problem solving, higher quality energy and joy, higher quality connection, and excellent modeling for those who look to you as a leader. A much better pattern, am I right?

I am not sure when we will schedule the Calm, Curious, and Collaborative workshop again. I am not even sure if we will offer it to the public ever again. But you can always reach out to us and we can bring a private workshop to your team and equip your people with the right tools while getting everyone on the same page. It shifts your dynamic in tangible ways, and you can’t unsee the before and after.

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